Start now if you want to be home for the holidays If you want to be snuggled into your new home for the holidays, it's time to make your list and check it twice. To clarify your thinking, try a two column list: Bones, Amenities In the Bones column, outline the construction of the house you must have: Number of bedrooms, bathrooms, home layout, neighborhood (roughly), school district, new or old construction. In some price ranges, certain features are a definite bones. If you watch television home buying shows, you know even buyers living in their mom's garage seem to demand granite countertops in their new home. Home sellers should take note of that, since it is often portrayed as a deal breaker. But should granite countertops really be a deal breaker? In your list of Bones, try to relegate decorative features to Amenities. Granite countertops don't hold up the walls or pick your kid up from school. And, really, if you found the perfect home, you could put in your own countertops. After that, ask yourself what features (or amenities) you want to have in the house. It's surprising but true that people answer that question about amenities differently, depending on their ages. The younger Gen X and Gen Yers are often looking for new construction in smart home operated by cellphones. They want homes that lock up, light up, heat up, and cool up at the touch of a button on an app. Lots of people are looking for custom closets with shelves, drawers and fancy shoe racks, but especially the younger crowd. Space is popular. Man caves, movie rooms top the list of amenities that men want. Both men and women want family-friendly kitchens, home offices and large laundry rooms. Second floor laundry rooms are preferred in new construction since there will be less laundry toting. Last on your list of things to look at is paint and furniture. Those are the things you will customize. Interest rates are still very low, but they are rising. Recently, they went up to a national average of 4 percent, but that's still much better than the 6 percent or 8 percent rates that were available in the past. If you really want or need to buy a home, sooner would be better than later, and you could still have time to put up that Christmas tree before holiday company arrives. But make the list now!